An Alabama man who lost all of his possessions in a trailer fire experienced further heartbreak after a police deputy shot and killed his dog.
Richard Junkins, 46, of Madison County, Alabama, lost everything when his trailer home burned down on March 6, 2015, according to AL.com. His wife, Angie, and black Labrador retriever, Mr. Bear, managed to escape from the trailer unharmed.
Junkins was sitting in the road in front of his burnt-down trailer 10 hours later when a passerby called police to report a man blocking the road and behaving strangely.
When police deputy Daniel De Jong arrived on the scene, flashlight in hand, he was greeted by Junkins' dog running at him. Police dashcam footage of the encounter reportedly show the animal running out of the dark towards the officer, growling and barking loudly.
At this point, De Jong pulled out a gun and shot the animal to death. When Junkins saw the deputy shoot his dog, he began cursing furiously at him.
"Son of a bitch … you shot my dog!" he said to De Jong, according to AL.com.
"Hey, stay where you're at!" De Jong ordered the man, who was standing shirtless in the road.
"We're trying to figure out what's going on, I got a big a-- dog running at me, I ain't going to get bit," De Jong said as he placed Jenkins under arrest.
Junkins was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly blocking traffic in the road.
However, the man was acquitted of the charge after a 20-minute jury deliberation in a Huntsville, Alabama, court on March 9. During Junkins's trial, the jury was not permitted to see the dashcam footage or hear about the shooting of the man's dog.
At one point during the trial, however, Judge Ruth Ann Hall asked Junkins what his dog's name was, to which he replied, "Mr. Bear, he was like a son to me."
De Jong admitted during the trial that he didn't realize the man's trailer had burned down until after he shot the dog.
Utility worker Anthony Swinford, the passerby who reported Junkins to the police, said the man appeared to be intoxicated when Swinford and his wife drove by him in their car. However, Junkins said on the stand that he only drank one beer that night and that his seemingly disoriented state was due to grief over losing his home.
"I wasn't all right, I was extremely sick, mentally sick," he said about his emotions on the day in question. "I should have been in the hospital that day."
This wasn't the first time De Jong behaved questionably in the line of duty.
In May 2013, the police deputy allegedly tasered a 28-year-old Huntsville man, Dominique Kenebrew, and conducted an illegal search of his home following a noise complaint, according to another AL.com article.
Kenebrew, an electrical engineer, was reportedly having a housewarming party at the time. He was arrested and charged with obstructing government operations, of which he was later acquitted.
On March 2, Kenebrew sued De Jong and another deputy who was involved in the incident.